Cliff House is a dated, throwback kind of place tucked off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood. The best thing it offers is the view. The next best thing would be a perfectly grilled steak or chunk of fresh fish, which they do very well.
After that it's downhill.
And that's because this is a Hunk O' Meat (well, or fish) restaurant at heart. You choose your meat and then you choose your carbs from the usual suspects of rice and baked potato. It is NOT a chef's restaurant, not a place where dishes are carefully composed from the best local ingredients. The few specials they do offer in an attempt at upscale combining have been in my experience heavy/clumsy--usually a baked fish of some kind buried under a sauce tasting of a Knorr's package mix bulked out with extra cream, cheese and butter.
The whisky crab soup is famous here, but I think that owes a lot to the fact that if you order the soup then you're saved the embarrassment of making the trip to the salad bar. Yes, a salad bar. Like at The Sizzler. You thought there weren't any more salad bars, but you're wrong! The Tradition That Never Should Have Been is alive and well at The Cliff House, complete with all the cliche components: the manufactured salad dressings, croutons out of a box, and the glass "sneeze plate" that's supposed to catch all the germs being spewed by your not-so-well fellow diners.
So go for the view. Go for the full-service bar. Go for a great piece of fresh grilled salmon and the whiskey crab soup. Or go because you live down the street and it's close.
Just don't expect great dining, because it's not here.
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